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University And College Education Over-Rated


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Pardon me while I let off some steam.

I look around, and particularly in Asia, I see how a University degree is deemed crucially important. Employers feed the myth, particularly when they insist on a diploma for job applicants.

The best thing I can say about U's and colleges, is they enable youngsters to conjugate, have some fun, and share some ideas. However, youngsters can do that at other venues, without their parents spending tens of thousands of dollars annually.

For the most part, U's and colleges are places where students are required to sit still, face the front of the class, and pretend they're listening. Much the same as High School. More than that, they're a way for some people (at the upper echelons) to make a lot of money. In Thailand - much of those riches come in the form of payments (by underlings) for promotions.

Oh, and it's employment for many people, similar to government.

There are few, if any things, which can be learned at a U, which cannot be learned via the internet, books, and/or (preferably) directly from people skilled in those fields.

Imagine the money which could be saved, were it not spent on Universities - a phenomenal amount.

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Maybe it's not so important where you are, but in the States, even a Bachelor's degree will find you very little work. If you want a real job, the Master's degree is what really opens doors, unless you want to work construction, McDonald's, or some other dead end job.

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IMO Employers look upon those of us who have degrees as people that have the ability to focus on a given subject/task for a considerable amount of time.

Be this propping up the Uni Bar or studying Metaphysics is another matter entirely.

I got my degree at Open University - took 6 years ( 16 hours per week ) whilst holding down a full time job - yep I am a hero :)

Edited by chonabot
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Maybe it's not so important where you are, but in the States, even a Bachelor's degree will find you very little work. If you want a real job, the Master's degree is what really opens doors, unless you want to work construction, McDonald's, or some other dead end job.

...which fits with what I mentioned in the OP. Employers feed in to the myth that a degree signifies qualification. A more sane option would be a 'means test.' True story: a top engineering firm hunts new talent, not by requiring a degree, but by showing prospective applicants a briefcase with about 20 devices, all related to engineering. The applicant is asked to ID the devices in detail. Such a test can spot a real engineering type person, as opposed to someone who sat in class for 6 to 8 years and scored well on tests.

IMO Employers look upon those of us who have degrees as people that have the ability to focus on a given subject/task for a considerable amount of time.

Be this propping up the Uni Bar or studying Metaphysics is another matter entirely. I got my degree at Open University - took 6 years ( 16 hours per week ) whilst holding down a full time job - yep I am a hero :)

Congrats for getting a degree. In comparison, I single-handedly put together the world's largest dictionary of English language idioms. At last count, there were over 17,000 listings in ABC order. But that's neither here nor there.

Granted, sticking in a U for 6 to 8 years is commendable (I guess), but should that attribute cost $25,000 per year to achieve? ....and could persistance be shown in a different and cheaper venue than a U?

I just heard of a man who spent 10 years building the world's smallest fully functioning Dusenburg car, Every single item was fabricated by him in his basement, except some screws. That includes the functioning engine. That's persistence and skills, but there's no diploma behind it, so an engineering firm wouldn't even give him an interview for a job.

Pop Quiz: what do the heads of Apple (deceased), Microsoft and Facebook have in common? Answer: none ever got a college or U degree. Neither did Ben Franklin, for that matter.

The need for a U degree has been grossly over-amped, and is part of the reason why there are so many mediocre people running businesses and governments. Look at the Wall Street meltdown of 2008. Not only were all those people with Masters and PhD degrees making terrible decisions, they were blatantly cheating the system as well. Is that the type of people we want controlling masses of money? They nearly brought on a depression which would have dwarfed the big one of 1929. The only reason the US survived was because a former Goldman Sachs exec (now in gov't) cobbled together multi-billion $$$ hand-outs to the largest 12 US banks, even though some of those banks weren't even ailing.

Incidentally, a U degree is required to run for Thai political office. When you look at the skills and wisdom of the average Thai politician, it makes you wonder if things could be any worse with some regular folks in positions of power.

Edited by maidu
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A few years ago I had surgery.

I was glad the Dr. had an education.

I am glad he didn't cut me open and try to identify the parts and see what he could take out.

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I don't fully agree with the OP that higher education is not necessary but I think he makes some good points with regards to some flaws in the system

Edited by brit1984
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I don't think university per se is over rated, although I agree many universities (and many courses) offer very little obvious benefit to the student or society at large

Edited by brit1984
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A few years ago I had surgery.

I was glad the Dr. had an education.

I am glad he didn't cut me open and try to identify the parts and see what he could take out.

Obviously there are some jobs that are highly-skilled where it is necessary to study at University to become qualified but that isn't always the case. I know it is very different here as people without a university education are looked down on and never given a chance to show their potential, but in many western countries a degree, masters etc doesn't mean you will be the first choice. Many companies will employ people without a university education if they have potential or experience that enables them to do that job, that would never happen here! My sister-in-law recently finished her degree here in Thailand and is now working at 7/11...unbelievable!

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I'd like to see hiring done on the basis of skills and intelligence, rather than so much reliance on seeing a U degree, as so often happens, particularly in Asian countries, including Thailand.

Add to that, hiring and promotions in Thailand often require payments to higher ups. It happens in the militay, police, government, business, hospitals and U's. So, most likely the surgeon who is cutting you open is skilled, but would you like to know whether he got his esteemed position by paying-for-promotion (and the high social status/influence of his family), or whether he got to his position by skills and knowledge? A lesser credentialed person might as good or a better surgeon. We'll never know, because those without credentials don't get opportunities to show their skills.

Regarding military top brass: The bungling and harmful decisions of Tak Bai, Kru Sae, and the response to the Bangkok Red Shirt riots of 2010 could at least partly be attributed to poor decisions - from men who were promoted to top jobs by credentials (and payments) rather than skills and wisdom.

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IMO Employers look upon those of us who have degrees as people that have the ability to focus on a given subject/task for a considerable amount of time.

Be this propping up the Uni Bar or studying Metaphysics is another matter entirely. I got my degree at Open University - took 6 years ( 16 hours per week ) whilst holding down a full time job - yep I am a hero smile.png

Congrats for getting a degree. In comparison, I single-handedly put together the world's largest dictionary of English language idioms. At last count, there were over 17,000 listings in ABC order. But that's neither here nor there.

Seriously ?

Wow - I wrote a thesis on that dictionary - can I send you my notes to see if they were accurate?

All joking aside - I agree with your points when aimed at Thailand's hiring criteria.

I left school at 16 , had a successful career in IT, only went back to University when I decided to change careers.

Edited by chonabot
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I spent a lot of time hiring people--almost entirely for the teaching field. The success rate correlates directly with the education. In the past year, we had no teacher with a B.Ed. who was dismissed or for whom there was criticism of their work. We had a small number of Bachelor's degree holders, but not in Education, who received a somewhat critical review of their performance, but none faced a non-renewal of contract. In general, this last group knew the subject material very well, but the techniques of teaching were deficient.

Of those that had no University level education, about 40% had to be discharged or faced non-renewal of the contract. They simply did not have the ability to face any of the challenges that fell out of the ordinary. They lacked adaptability and some simply didn't have the basic knowledge of the subject material to effectively teach.

The last group all 'just loved teaching' and they 'just loved the children', but the administration was no good, the homeroom teachers were no good etc. Everything was the problem except them.

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I spent a lot of time hiring people--almost entirely for the teaching field. The success rate correlates directly with the education. In the past year, we had no teacher with a B.Ed. who was dismissed or for whom there was criticism of their work. We had a small number of Bachelor's degree holders, but not in Education, who received a somewhat critical review of their performance, but none faced a non-renewal of contract. In general, this last group knew the subject material very well, but the techniques of teaching were deficient.

Of those that had no University level education, about 40% had to be discharged or faced non-renewal of the contract. They simply did not have the ability to face any of the challenges that fell out of the ordinary. They lacked adaptability and some simply didn't have the basic knowledge of the subject material to effectively teach.

The last group all 'just loved teaching' and they 'just loved the children', but the administration was no good, the homeroom teachers were no good etc. Everything was the problem except them.

Not a suprise at all, really. Teaching requires many skills, and the average back-packer with no background in education would do a paltry job compared to somebody who studied Education in college.

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Maybe it's not so important where you are, but in the States, even a Bachelor's degree will find you very little work. If you want a real job, the Master's degree is what really opens doors, unless you want to work construction, McDonald's, or some other dead end job.

Before the economy went bust in the US, I knew some construction workers making $90,000 a year. A few still are, but many are out of work right now, I am not sure if I would call construction a dead end job or even remotely compare it to McDonald's.

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I think one of the most important things a university does is provide a way for employers to differentiate between an individual with an education and one without an education. Unless you're hiring someone for manual labor like picking up trash, low skilled construction, or digging ditches, most employers look for individuals with an education because of their higher reasoning abilities makes them better workers. This is especially true when employees need to function independently. Employees with bachelors degrees make better workers and eventually supervisors. Now, I know that this is not always the case, but more often than not, it is.

With an education comes a reason for an employee to get a specific salary. Without it, an employee would have to take the lowest offered compensation to do a job. I agree most things can be learned with the internet, but also think 99% of the population is not disciplined enough to do that. Most need to be in the classroom to learn.

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